Sandeep Narwal: ‘U Mumba will demonstrate something different this season’

U Mumba registered one win and one loss at the opening leg in Hyderabad and will face Puneri Paltan in Mumbai on Saturday.

Sandeep Narwal (orange) stretches out for a touch during the Hyderabad leg of Pro Kabaddi League   -  Special Arrangement

All-rounder Sandeep Narwal is a key player for U Mumba in the Pro Kabaddi League. Credited with 200 league points so far in both tackle and raid departments, the Sonepat sensation is growing in reputation as a brilliant defender and a useful attacker. The vice-captain of the team is now focussed on entertaining the home fans during the Mumbai leg.

Narwal’s side registered one win and one loss at the opening leg in Hyderabad and will face Puneri Paltan on Saturday.

Excerpts from an interview:

The Hyderabad leg was an opportunity for players to know each other in match situations. What can Mumbai fans expect from Sandeep Narwal in the second leg?

Fans support us well at home. I urge them to increase their support. U Mumba will demonstrate something different in season seven, people will surely notice and talk about it. When going on a raid or lending my hand in the defence, something out of the way will happen.

Over the first three seasons, raiders were considered to be the match-winners. Defenders got attention and importance in season five and season six. Will all-rounders call the shots in future?

The role of all-rounders is being talked about. You will get to see that every side has begun to realise that all-rounders also can get things done.

Factfile: Sandeep Narwal
  • Role: All-rounder
  • Matches played: 103
  • Total raid points: 230
  • Total Tackle points: 258
  • Teams: Patna Pirates (S1-S3), Telugu Titans(S4), Puneri Paltan (S5-S6), U Mumba(S7-).

Do you interact much with defensive ace Fazel Atrachali?

I am in the same side as Fazal Atrachali, so I am in constant touch. I ask him about the moment when going for a raid will be right, also about movement in the defence. Kabaddi is a team sport, you cannot do what comes to your mind when going on a raid, or in your role as catcher. Whether Nitin or Fazel, we plan as a team.

It’s a long season in PKL (July to October this time). As an all-rounder, how do you retain energy and form throughout?

The league lasts three months, so we prepare pre-season accordingly and even train on the match day morning. All-rounders need to do something extra because you can be sent on a raid anytime in the match, catching we are doing anyway. All-rounders have to devote more time. Staying away from injury is also on our mind. Our coach works on our raiding and catching skills. The more we slog in training, the better we can perform out there.

You have scored over 200 points in both raids and tackles. What is your goal this season?

Team result is more important than personal highs. Getting two tackle points and ending on the winning side is equal to 200 points. I feel the same about raid points also. Raiders usually end up contributing more points than catchers, I will try to deliver performances expected from me in both halves. If I can pull it off, points will automatically increase.

Do you feel the time is right for sports fans to embrace kabaddi, like they do for cricket and cricketers?

My request to all is to give us affection you reserve in your hearts for cricket and cricketers. In return, we promise to give you delightful moments to enjoy. We will not let you down and go home disappointed.